Large Lot Cleanup Equipment

Large Lot Cleanup Equipment

How to Collect Leaves with a Riding Mower

Dale, the Leaf Blower Expert
Leaf Blower Expert

Autumn leaves are a beautiful sight, but leaving them all over your lawn isn't the best idea. Think about some of the ways they can cause problems:

  • Blocking sunlight from reaching your grass
  • Harboring rodents and insects
  • Providing a growing medium for fungi and other lawn diseases

Other kinds of debris like grass clippings can contribute to these problems, too. And if you have a large lawn, or you're responsible for upkeep on public property, you know that the bigger the lot, the more problems you're likely to find.

If you have a large yard to care for, chances are that you use a riding lawn mower to keep the grass trimmed and neat in the summer. 

Good news: there are all sorts of tow-behind mower attachments that you can use with your riding mower. Together, they can help clean up different kinds of debris and make all your lawn care chores easy, all year around:

  • Lawn sweepers
  • Dethatchers
  • Tow-behind lawn vacuums
  • Nut gatherers

One word of advice: no matter which type of riding mower attachment interests you, always check your mower's weight limit or towing capacity to make sure your attachment is compatible!


Lawn Tractor Leaf Collectors & More

Lawn SweeperLike a broom that you don't have to worry about carrying in your hands, a lawn sweeper uses brushes and bristles to whisk leaves off your grass. However, a yard sweeper's bristles are attached to an axle, and they push debris into a hopper for easy collection.

Lawn sweepers work best on dry grass. Unlike some push lawn sweepers that use a motor or engine for propulsion, tow-behind models don't draw power and need only to be pulled behind your riding mower to rid your lawn of lightweight debris. For commercial users, tandem sweepers can cover more ground with each pass.

When to use a lawn sweeper: as mentioned, lawn sweepers are a great choice when your yard waste includes mostly lightweight material:

  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Pine needles
  • Flower petals

Lawn sweepers are also excellent for conveniently collecting debris when you don't necessarily want to cut your grass.

During the summer months, you have the option of using a bagger with your mower to collect clippings. However, you don't want to mow your lawn in the fall, when the grass isn't actively growing, or at any time when it's recovering from wear and disease. With a yard sweeper, you'll still be able to use your mower to clean other kinds of debris.


Dethatchers for Yard Cleanup

Lawn Sweeper DethatcherLeaves and grass clippings might land everywhere, but they're at least easy to gather. A trickier problem arises when you find your lawn covered with thatch.

Thatch is a layer of dead, dried-up grass and roots found clumped along the base of the blades. A thin layer of thatch can help your lawn by insulating the grass from intense sunlight and heat. A thick layer, however, can harm your lawn by blocking the flow of necessary sunlight, water, and nutrients.

When to use a dethatcher: if the layer of thatch stands over half an inch thick, then it's time to dethatch. The tines on a tow-behind dethatcher will loosen the tangles so that the thatch lifts easily from the ground.

Dethatching can be done with a tool like a rake or a push dethatcher, but a tow-behind dethatcher will prove essential if you have a wide space to tend. Tow-behind dethatchers are available as stand-alone attachments or as attachments you can fit to a lawn sweeper that allow you to both loosen and collect the thatch in one sweep.


Lawn Vacuums for Yard Cleanup

Tow-Behind Lawn VacuumA lawn sweeper is a useful manual tool for collecting yard waste. However, if you find you want more power to get the job done quickly, a tow-behind lawn vacuum might be better suited to your needs.

Featuring their own gas engines, tow-behind lawn vacuums are designed to connect to a riding mower's discharge chute and use their own engine power to create a whirlwind of suction. Some models can produce up to 80 mph of vacuuming force.

When to use a lawn vacuum: A lawn vacuum might be the better choice over a lawn sweeper in three particular cases:

  • When you have a large amount of debris to gather, and the oversized collection bin on a vacuum is more practical than a lawn sweeper's smaller hopper
  • When you want to break debris down further—many vacuums have an impeller inside that chops and mulches debris
  • When you want the option of using a detachable hose to clean nooks and crannies

Because tow-behind yard vacuums are so heavy, it's especially important to check the weight limit of your riding mower before investing in a vacuum.


Nut Gatherers for Lawn Cleanup

Nut GathererLawn sweepers and lawn vacuums are logical choices for cleaning up grass and leaves. When it comes to thatch, nothing beats a dethatcher. 

You might think that vacuums and sweepers also would work well for picking up nuts. However, anyone who's ever tried to vacuum a pecan off the ground knows how difficult that task can be.

That's why nut gatherers exist to make the task easier.

When to use a nut gatherer: the obvious answer is, "whenever you find too many nuts piling up on your lawn." The density of many common nuts and the smoothness of some of their shells, however, make sweepers and vacuums poor choices for the job.

Because nuts weigh more than dried leaves or grass clippings, sweepers can't effectively sweep them off of grass. Similarly, due to their smooth shells, nuts are difficult for lawn vacuums to pick up.

Nut gatherers get past these problems by using prongs to snatch nuts, almost like tongs. You'll find tow-behind nut gatherers available not only in different widths to clean more ground in a single pass, but also in different configurations that work well with different kinds of nuts. 

With so many types of riding mower attachments available, you're bound to find just the equipment you need to make clearing your large lot of any debris quick and easy. Thanks to these attachments, riding mowers aren't just for mowing anymore!


NEXT: How to Pick the Perfect Lawn Sweeper

Dale, the Leaf Blower Expert
Leaf Blower Expert
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